Guido y Spano, Carlos (1827–1918)

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Guido y Spano, Carlos (1827–1918)

For several generations of Argentineans, Carlos Guido y Spano was considered the country's national poet. His father, Tomás Guido (1788–1866), was an aristocratic military general who fought with José de San Martín for the independence of Spanish America, and later became a high-ranking minister during the caudillo regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas. As an elite young man, Guido y Spano spent his formative years abroad, living with the royal court of Brazilian monarch Dom Pedro II and participating in the 1848 antimonarchical revolts in France.

Guido y Spano began his writing career in Argentina as a journalist, and it was not until 1854 that his first poems were published in the Revista de Paraná. His first book of poetry, Hojas al viento (Leaves in the Wind) was published in Buenos Aires in 1871. In 1879 he published a two-volume work, Ráfagas, which included prose writing about politics and literature, as well as some of his journalistic writings. In this same year he published his Autobiografía, which is full of memories from his childhood, quotations from his travel notebooks, and excerpts from his letters.

Highly influenced by the literary style of the romantic era into which he was born, Guido y Spano's poetry reflects many of the main themes of this genre, such as unrequited love, nighttime journeys, and country ruins. At the same time, he is considered by many literary historians to have played a leading role in introducing the styles of American modernism into Argentina, specifically through his use of classical themes and his judicious use of language.

Guido y Spano's aristocratic background and political connections brought him to several political posts throughout his lifetime. He served as the sub-secretary of foreign relations from 1854 to 1861, and in 1872 he was named secretary of agriculture. In 1874 he was designated director of the general archive of Buenos Aires province, and from 1881 to 1894 he served as the spokesperson for the National Council on Education. He died in Buenos Aires in 1918 after a long illness.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Primary Works

Guido y Spano, Carlos, and Angel Mazzei. Carlos Guido y Spano: Autobiografía y selección de poesías. Buenos Aires: Atlántida, 1975.

Secondary Works

Fortuny, Pablo. Carlos Guido y Spano, poeta y "hombre de bien." Buenos Aires: Ediciones Theoría, 1967.

Sarlos, Beatriz. Carlos Guido y Spano. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1968.

                                              Emily Berquist